CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Hannah Bell’s Green party victory has to have sent shockwaves through the Liberal and Conservative parties, says UPEI political science professor Peter McKenna.
“I’m sure they’re scratching their heads wondering, ‘Is this for real? Is this a trend? Is this something we need to be worried about?’,’’ McKenna said Tuesday in digesting Monday night’s byelection results.
The UPEI professor suspects many of the more than 2,000 people who cast a ballot (just over 60 per cent of the 3,548 eligible voters voted) cast their vote in favour of electoral reform, something the Green party stood for.
“Those people who favour electoral reform parked their vote with the Green Party.’’
McKenna said to put Bell’s win in perspective people only need to look at the Green party breakthrough in British Columbia earlier this year. They now have three members elected to the legislature.
“Then it’s P.E.I. with two so that’s pretty significant, particularly here in Atlantic Canada where you tend to have a closed two-party system. You’re now seeing the Greens making their presence felt.’’
The professor also thinks Bell’s victory may have implications for the next general election in P.E.I. At least it’s enough to make the governing Liberals nervous.
District 11 Charlottetown-Parkdale was a district the liberals threw a lot of resources at. They had what they considered a good candidate and they had members of the caucus and cabinet out campaigning. There was also the promise of a new Sherwood School.
“It’s a blow to the Liberal party. I think they should be concerned; they should be nervous. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the (Wade) MacLauchlan government here on Prince Edward Island.’’
McKenna said Bell’s victory was also another sign that voters are tired of the current political process with the desire for change in District 11 leaning to the left.
McKenna is almost certain it will also lead to a strong field of candidates for the Greens in the next general election.
While it was a great night for the Greens, it was an equally dismal showing for the province’s NDP party. It’s leader, Mike Redmond, not only finished last he only pulled in 9.3 per cent of the vote.
“I think it’s time the party thinks very seriously about a new direction and a change at the top,’’ McKenna said. “He and the party need to take a serious look about continuing on.’’